Friday, June 15, 2012

How Colic Hurt My Marriage, How God Heals It

My husband is mostly likely mystified as to why I'm suddenly craving romance so desperately at year eleven. Right after our anniversary date I started running around reading romance books, shedding tears while watching Fireproof on Netflix, lighting candles in the bath, research Catholic marriage sites on the internet, and praying for greater insight into my role as a wife.

Why the intense focus? Why the hidden panic?We're married!  We're best friends and Carmelite confidants. My husband isn't going anywhere.

It's just that my newborn's case of colic hurts me. And I feel alone in my hurt.

My husband Jon is kind and empathetic. My pediatrician (John with an "h") is also kind and empathetic. But they don't really "get it".

When little Abigail cries it hurts my heart. When I can't get her comfortable after hours and hours of trying, I start to despair. I can put her down and take a bath. I can leave the house to drink a coffee. Those things help me stay sane, but my heart still hurts. I know my baby is crying. When she sleeps through the night, I don't tell myself "we're finally lucky!" My first thought in the morning is "she must be dying!" I know that she's cried so hard in the past 48 hours, that she's exhausted herself into sleeping for 10 hours straight. This isn't the pattern of what normal newborns do.

I can't believe I'm thinking this, but I actual miss the NICU. I don't want Baby Abigail to be dying. I just miss the camaraderie. I miss the reassurance that other experts are watching this puzzling list of symptoms and trying problem solve. Right now it's so lonely. Its just me, staring at a newborn girl who is often red with rage, and has a hard belly, gives impressive man belches and has powerfully explosive poop. Baby Abigail's G.I track is clearly off--but what can I do about it?
My husband is right here with me. He's tired. And kind. And calm. Little Abigail's chronic crying doesn't effect him in the same way that it affects me. In my intellect, I'm grateful for that. Who wants two parents ready to jump off the same ledge? Instead, it's better for my husband to serve as the anchor for our family right now.

At the same time, as a wife, I am so lonely. Physically, my husband and I are in the same home. Emotionally, I feel ten thousand miles away. Alone on this cross, with this suffering baby who I can't succor, who I can't "fix"-I'm far away from everybody.

As fellow Carmelite, who has a son with autism, a far different and more difficult cross than mine posted this article on FB called Battling the Bitterness of Parenting a Disabled Child with this a beautiful paragraph

St. Augustine describes God as being "closer to me than I am to myself." Because He knows us intimately, He also comforts us that intimately. He fully enters our pain because, unlike most humans, He can fully handle its weight, emotion, and complexity. We can go to Him and be understood. And that is when our pain is eased. From Him, we gather strength to face another day. 

I'm in a place where I can't find understanding or refreshment with my husband. It's not because he's not trying to listen or he's not a great guy. This cross of having a colic child is so subtle, so maternal that I can't even share it with the other parent of my child.

In the middle of that horrible "aloneness" there is God. The only being that can truly hand the weight, emotion and complexity of my individual struggle with Baby Abigail.

When I let my husband off the hook. When I stop being mad that he "just doesn't get it." I have space to beg God --Help Me! Be There! Pick me up and make me feel better.